released 2018, universal japan/perfume records
I’d like to preface this review by letting you all know that Perfume are one of the groups out there that I feel I have a very tight bond with. I’ve been listening to these ladies since they were kids, well over a decade now. It’s almost like we’ve grown up together, I watched them go from performing to empty outdoor crowds to sold out stadiums!
It’s been a fantastic run, and like most of the fandom, I was very excited about getting another album (fairly soon, only 2 years after 2016’s Cosmic Explorer). However, Future Pop has a very huge strike against it even just looking at the tracklist. This is a 12 track LP and only 4 of the songs are completely new. Literally everything else is old singles and b-sides that received no sort of remixing, (a usual trend for most Perfume albums) and in the cases of “TOKYO GIRL”, “If You Wanna” and “Let Me Know”, remixes would have really beefed these relatively forgettable singles up while also giving the album more originality.
“Start Up” is a 52 second intro that I can barely call a track on its own. Title track “Future Pop” sets out to establish a sound for this body of work, but honestly it would have fit on Cosmic Explorer. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking for Perfume.
The next three tracks we have to sit through before getting to a new piece of material are all the original mixes of “If You Wanna”, “TOKYO GIRL” and “FUSION”. Wanna sounds as unfinished and underproduced as it did on original release, which I feel hurts it as it’s definitely a track that could go somewhere if producer Nakata Yasutaka gave some semblance of a fuck. I don’t really have anything to say about the latter two tracks as they’re frankly old news to me. Perfume albums always have an aggressive electronic track on them, and I guess FUSION would be Future Pop’s? Sadly, it didn’t get the “triangle mix” treatment that it deserved. (Can you tell how disappointed I am with this album so far?)
We finally reach an original song after the title track in “Tiny Baby”, and I’d have to say this is the weakest of the new offerings. Forgettable verses and a chorus that I find utterly atrocious. Never thought I’d ever say that about a Perfume song. Moving on…..
“Let me Know” was the last single we got before the album’s release and this one really reinforced the idea that most of the singles this era just seem like ideas thrown at the wall with no real thought or polish for me. There is a structure and a foundation for this song to be big, but ultimately it goes nowhere.
I had largely checked out of “Future Pop” by this point, but I’m happy to say it’s back half is far more enjoyable of a listen than the front. “Chorairin” is an earworm and a grower! I’d say it has some of the best production on the album, and while its chorus is nothing to write home about, I have a feeling I will come to like it, considering how much I like everything else about the song.
“Mugenmirai” is my choice for the best single of this campaign, and while I would have loved a new mix, its original form is pristine and didn’t need any edits. Simply a fantastic song. Walls of synths cascading down, emotional piano that adds depth, and melodies that transcend the robotic nature of the arrangement all coalesce to create one of the strongest and most unique singles in Perfume’s discography.
The next track is TOKYO GIRL’s b-side, “Houseki no Ame”. I honestly have nothing to really say about this one other than that it’s enjoyable, but a bit of a waste on a tracklist that already had a bunch of shit I’ve already heard. If you couldn’t tell, I’m already exhausted with this recycling.
“Tenku” ends our extremely short run of new material on this album, and I’m relieved to say that it’s the best of the original offerings on Future Pop for me. Upbeat, futuristic and poppy (two for two on that album title/description!), Tenku soars through its four minute runtime, and while its chord progressions might be familiar to any experienced Nakata listeners/fans, it doesn’t actually harm the song. I’ll be playing this one a lot in the near future.
Future Pop comes to a close with If You Wanna’s b-side “Everyday”, and while I find that a bit uninspired (the last album ended with a b-side too Nakata, let’s try something else!), I can’t fault the song itself. It’s an enjoyable listen and suitable end to the album sound-wise.
I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but “Future Pop” is easily the weakest of Perfume’s overall brilliant discography. The machine is showing signs of wear now, and the abundant lack of new material on this album only furthered my belief that this album was shipped out as either a cash in or contractual obligation/filler. Future Pop’s strengths are few but they’re there, but I can safely say that this album was not Future Pop! Hopefully Perfume can get back in true form sometime soon.
- Start Up (N/A)
- Future Pop ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- If You Wanna ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- TOKYO GIRL ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- FUSION ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Tiny Baby ⭐️⭐️
- Let Me Know ⭐️⭐️
- 超来輪 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- 無限未来 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- 宝石の雨 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- 天空 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Everyday ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Must-Listen : The second half of the album.
Skip : The first half if you’ve already heard it honestly.